76ºF

St. Johns County revising plans for new schools

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The St. Johns County School District announced it's revising construction plans for new schools that were scheduled to open for the 2017/2018 year.

The district developed a plan to build three new schools following the November 2015 approval of the half-cent sales tax for school capital improvements.

The plans included one elementary and two K-8 schools.

RENDERINGS: Three new schools

Because St. Johns County is seeing rapid growth in student enrollment, four additional classrooms were added to the elementary model and a third story was added to a classroom wing of the K-8 model.

The district said these additional classrooms will help get ahead of the growth trend.

The district said its goal was to begin construction quickly and open all three schools for the beginning of the 2017/2018 school year. 

However, it only received a single construction bid for the new K-8 school called "LL," which is located on Shetland Drive in northwest St. Johns County.

The district said that is unprecedented in St. Johns County and the bid exceeded the construction budget for the project. It also said it represented "inadequate competition" among potential contractors.

"Awarding this bid is clearly not in the best interest of the district and community," the St. Johns County School District posted on its website.

The district said it did not want to violate the trust of the community by inappropriately spending those funds in a way that exceeds acceptable limits.

The two new K-8 schools will now open for the 2018/2019 school year, one year later than originally planned.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: New schools to open

"In order to better manage costs and maintain the budget, the scope of the K-8 projects will be revised to allow for a school size of approximately 1,000 students," the district said.

The originally planned capacity was 1,490 students. In order to get to that number, the district said its revised plans include a two-story classroom wing as an alternate bid.

"Depending on the availability of revenue, the two-story wing will either be built as part of the original school construction beginning this summer or at a later date as an addition to the school," the district said.

The district said it anticipates other firms will participate in the bid process, now that it revised its plans and timeline for construction.

There is no plan to revise the construction schedule of new elementary school “M” in the World Golf Village area. Construction on that school is currently planned for summer 2016 and it's expected to open for the 2017/2018 school year.

"While circumstances in the construction industry will not allow the district to open all three schools in the fall of 2017, the district is committed to providing high-quality educational facilities for each and every student," the St. Johns County School District posted on its website.